Poetry

Poetry

Autumnal diary

Behold, I am sending forth many fishers, says the Lord, and they shall catch them. (Jeremiah 16:16)

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

At noon the Church of the Epiphany,
on this the long anticipated Date
with Destiny on which we’re told the Fate
of Almost All depends, is strangely free
of angst. The good-sized crowd is here to see
a choir perform Cantata Eighty Eight
and hear Johann the angel Bach relate
a snatch of puzzling Bible history:
God is at first an angry fisherman
who hunts in righteous wrath our sinful kind
but then Christ stoops and speaks, wrath is undone
by love, reality is redefined,
Ohio pales, the stained glass glows blood red,
the hapless fish are named, called, calmed and fed.







The River Lee near dark

           What people seeking solace do—they wait
until the light goes low. It’s then they’ve seen
a shadow here and there. They’ve often looked
           to touch once more a face beside the gate.

           Engaged in talk, or walking toward the pier,
they learn one word might lead them well
beyond the ways—it’s nearing late—familiar:
           out past the oaks, the trails, the salmon weir

           where waters thrum—now flash a silverwhite.
I’d follow you, he says, and next, Which way?
He stills to narrows kept for years in check.
           What people, lost, endure to see things right.







Geology

Place a stone in the palm of your hand;
it lies there, inert, nothing but itself.
It revels in its stoniness, its solidity.
It gathers light, rises from the plains,
a mountain in miniature, notches and ridges
carved by weather, strata and stria,
the pressure of time, the rough places,
planed. A climber might try for the pinnacle,
looking for toeholds in cracks and crevasses.
The way up is never easy. The air thins.
From the peak, the horizon falls away.
Borders are meaningless. The stone rests in your hand.
It sings its one long song. Something about eternity.
Something about the sea.



What will be

           You may sense it in the call of a Canada goose in flight   a
longing strong enough to carry an entire flock to their destination
           You may feel it in the grumble of a distant storm   that dark
dissatisfaction at what is   in comparison with what will be
           The people who should never let us down   let us down   The
cabin roof groans with the weight of so much snow   The stairs in
the old farmhouse complain with every footstep   even with the
memory of feet that move no longer   The branches of an enormous
oak moan in the high wind
           You many hear it in the spirituals nurtured in the cotton fields
of the deep south   a deep sorrow at temporal hopelessness distilled
into hope for beyond   Comin’ for to carry me home
           You may think you merely imagine it in the whistle of a train
as it rumbles through a midnight crossing   but the tracks through
BC’s mountains were laid with the blood of Chinese navvies   the
sweat of abandoned dreams   & the boxcars rolling through the
prairies   during the depression   carried the last hope of the
unemployed   Don’t imagine that that wail   has nothing to do with
human grief
           Sometimes our wounds heal completely   sometimes they
leave a scar   A woman learns of cancer in her breast   a man finds
his heart is failing   We fall to our knees for a miracle   & are
startled when an answer seems to come   a taste of what will be
           Hear the wind in the cavity where the siding is loose   Hear it
banging against the wall   Sometimes our wounds don’t heal at all
           We fall to our knees   but the sky grows grey   featureless &
silent   We long for what we had   what we almost had    what will be
           You may sense it in the stillness of a beaver pond   or in the
rush over Niagara
           You may see it in the sunflower   pushing through the soil
reaching for the sky   for the sun   When we most identify with this
world   we are least content



Mirror

as through a glass darkly
meant a window to my child’s eyes,
probably at night, or perhaps it
was the frown our mothers told
us God might make permanent
so we’d better cut it out,
that dark look we got sent
to our rooms for, but when
mirror was finally identified,
like looking glass someone explained,
I understood face to face
only was that God’s face
lurking behind mine as I peered
at the medicine chest in the morning
or would we have eyes
at all if we made it to heaven,
drowning like moths in a sea of light.